Note: In this installment of our new column P:R Roundtable, the guys and gals here have set their sights on the Marvel’s recent revisions to the Iron Fist character in the pages of New Avengers. In the story, Iron Fist was spirited away to the Light Dimension by someone masquerading as Dr. Strange’s dead mentor the Ancient One. The Eye of Agamotto is in play and magic hijinx ensue, leaving Iron Fist with a new costume — taking his existing design (by David Aja) and putting into white and gold. – Chris Arrant
Chris: To give some extra background, New Avengers artist and friend of the site Stuart Immonen was kind enough to tell us what was going on behind the scenes. “It was in the script,” Immonen said. “I can only guess that it was meant as a visual clue to the experience Iron Fist had in the Light Dimension. Initially, we talked about it being temporary, but as a group decided that we liked the look. That’s about it– nothing earth-shattering.”
And the look has been carried over past the story-arc into Iron Fist’s appearances not only in New Avengers, but also his new miniseries Power Man & Iron Fist. Enough prattle — let’s see what our writers think of the design!
Vito: The thing about the “new” Iron Fist costume is that it’s just a change of a primary color, but the change is so bold. White is a tough color to pull off, but when you really consider old kung-fu movies and the, for lack of a better word, elder characters usually wear white. Think of Ryu from Street Fighter or Pi Mei from Kill Bill. Danny Rand certainly is a kung-fu master, and now, his attire reflects that.
Rachel: Has anyone one else noticed that Iron Fist’s costume is IDENTICAL to Jean Grey’s phoenix togs, save for a slightly higher neckline and a different mythical flying thing?
That said, I think it’s a shame that they skipped the Dark Phoenix colors–that was always my favorite palette for the costume. Nor am I fond of the huge-field-of-white-and-gold effect–it screws up the balance of pages he’s on, plus it’s gonna be hellishly hard to get stains out. White can work when there’s texture–think Power Girl or Colleen Wing–but this is just distracting.
Chris: When this new costume variation first popped up in New Avengers I thought it was a temporary thing, but it’s really grown on me and gives Danny Rand a more mystical strata. Although not too different than his previous costume (which debuted in the Immortal Iron Fist series and was designed by David Aja), the striking white-and-gold (instead of green-and-yellow) really plays up Iron Fist. It’s like he’s Super-Saiyan.
Jesse: For a master martial artist and skilled puncher of things, Iron Fist looks pretty ridiculous in an all white and gold get up. I completely get Jonathan’s take on the reason behind the suit, but it seems uninspired. I feel like I am looking at the character select screen on a Street Fighter game, disappointed that my friend picked Chun-Li before I could, so I GUESS I’ll choose the pink version. Same costume, but leaves me wanting the original. That said, there are better ways to convey that Danny is a mystical mentor than a variant costume.
Jonathan: I’m in favor of the new design – tentatively.
I’ve been a fan of (Power Man &) Iron Fist going back a long ways, and I have a lot of affection for the old high-collar-and-unbuttoned-shirt outfit. One of the things I think the old costume did fairly well is to balance out the rather heavy green base color – so much flesh was showing and the yellow elements were so extravagant that the green provided a solid launching pad for an energetic look, which is important for a martial arts character. The early costume may have been objectively ludicrous, but it provided Danny Rand with a lot of energy, particularly with all the sharp, electric angles in it.
The most recent costume before this one, I didn’t particularly like, largely because it got rid of the dynamic angles and drastically dimmed the yellow and flesh tones. Besides that, the green was significantly darker, and the result was that Iron Fist was visually duller – not a lot of punch or implication of dramatic energy in that one.
This current palette brings back ALL that energy and much more, it’s vibrant and dynamic and even when he’s standing still, it pops. I did notice that they used Dave Cockrum’s original Phoenix palette (Between this, “Dark ” Iron Fist and his original costume colors, will Danny ever NOT wear the same color as Jean Grey? Is a blue-and-orange Iron Fist in the works?). So I like it – IF – it continues to have something to do with the character story-wise. It seems that the new focus on Iron Fist will be as a mystic character first and a martial artist second, and the colors suit that nicely. It’s also nice that, with the cut of the costume and the regal gold-on-white, he looks more like a mythical martial arts master inasmuch as his storyline deals prominently with his role as an instructor and mentor.
If it doesn’t continue to relate to his storyline, well, then it looks inappropriate. If, for instance, he goes back to being little more than a street-level kung-fu fighter, he’s going to look like he’s wearing a white tux to a mud wrestling event.
Jessica: I’m not really up on my Iron Fist, but I’m with Rachel in terms of the white spandex. The color palate is definitely more vibrant than the previous costume, as Jon says, but I just can’t look at it without thinking “Sweat stains. Sweat stains everywhere.” But that may just be my damage. :)
Joel: The white is a hard sell. Unlike Jon, I really liked the previous costume. As endearing as the Seventies funk fu outfit was, the last costume was one I could take seriously. Distinct yet elegantly pared down, it spoke of a man with who had things to do and was going to get them done. The new costume seems to pretty much be the previous one with the ostentation dialed up a notch. I can follow the idea that this represents some kind of spiritually leveled-up Iron Fist, but I think there are much more interesting routes one could have taken to that end.
People keep mentioning Phoenix, but I’m thinking of Mary Marvel. Now, there was superhero that could make white and gold work.
Jessica: Oh God, now I’m picturing Danny Rand in this [Editor's Note: See image at right!]
Jonathan: LET’S MAKE THAT HAPPEN!